Saturday, June 10, 2017

The Opportunity Equation

The Opportunity Equation: How Citizen Teachers Are Combating the Achievement Gap in America's SchoolsThe Opportunity Equation: How Citizen Teachers Are Combating the Achievement Gap in America's Schools by Eric Schwarz
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Eric Schwarz, founder of Citizen Schools, shares his vision for a world where every day citizens work with schools and teachers to ensure all students have access to the social networks and influence of a diverse array of adults.

First thoughts: I'm reading this book with just a bit of bias - both positive and negative. I obviously support the mission of Citizen Schools, but I've also seen areas where the organization has room for improvement. It was strange reading this book as a Teaching Fellow, specifically a TF2 (2nd-year) who is leaving the organization in about one week. Then again, it also seemed fitting to read this at the end of my Citizen Schools career.

Favorite quotes:

"Citizen power, properly mobilized, can change the world." (I've seen it!)

"Children who know a lot about their families tend to do better when they face challenges." (This is the concept of the inter-generational self, or the idea that we are all connected to and a part of our families, and we are more powerful because of it.)

"Did we really need another database, another evaluation system, another decision-making matrix, I wondered?" (HA - yes, I've had this thought so often the past two years.)

"The problem comes when the externally focused optimist and the internally focused skeptics take their natural proclivities too far." (Balance, people.)

"We need to step into schools with minimal judgment and as much curiosity and energy as we can muster. That's how to change the opportunity equation."

Recommended for: educators, parents, citizens, those with money or time, politicians.

Final thoughts: I never knew the "unofficial" flower of Citizen Schools is the sunflower - okay, there's a lot of things about CS I didn't know before reading this book. Mostly I didn't know how the organization was run/currently runs in Boston, where it started. Boston and Chicago are so very different, so it's interesting to see how adaptable the Boston school system seems to be to the "Extended Learning Time" model, compared with the struggles CPS has to get any learning time. We've got a long way to go before we reach equality in education in this country.

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